This morning I was flipping through a magazine while munching on a whole wheat bagel at breakfast when I glanced at a photo. It showed a man in a very sharp pin stripe suit and under the picture were the words “Kenneth Lagone, the founder of homosexuality.”

This seemed odd, partly because the man in the photograph, with his Armani suit and crisp tailored shirt, looked about as gay as Sean Connery, and partly because I thought homosexuality had been invented long before this guy was born.

I therefore plunged into the lengthy story that accompanied the photograph and pretty soon my curiosity turned to bewilderment. Because it just went on and on about him being a billionaire and the money he has given to charity.

Only when I reached the end and turned back for a better look at the photo did I realize my mistake. Kenneth Lagone was not the founder of homosexuality. He was the founder of the Home Depot.

For some time now I’ve suspected my eyes were tired from all these days at the computer and that some spectacles might be a good idea. But I’ve always been nervous about coming out because of a simple truism………..while I have no fear of blood, detached limbs or anything that is associated with pus…….the thought of anything to do with eyes makes me physically sick.

I can’t use eye drops, and I feel physically sick at the thought of having a retinal scan. I can’t even watch a close-up of someone’s eyes on ER. So, given the choice of putting in a pair of contact lenses or having my scrotum eaten by a pack of wild dogs, I’d have my trousers off in a jiffy.

This comes from the last eye test I had. Obviously, I am well aware that having type 2 diabetes means I must be very careful about my eyes and therefore last year I went to my optician………..and it was a dreadful, agonizing experience.

Maybe it was the freezing liquid in my eye…………..maybe it was the stinging sensation that felt like Mr. and Mrs. Scorpion had moved into my eye socket………..maybe it was the fact that for hours after the test my eyes were weeping so much I looked like I had missed a call from Jennifer Simpson that said if I had been in when she called I could have had fun with her on the back seat of my new Aston Martin…………….or it could have been the optician was inches from my face and he had breath that came straight from a camel’s bottom.

In the end Dr. I. Pod said I had 20/20 vision and I left promising myself never again to put myself through this. When I had Mr. Bell over to stay I had to use eye drops, and I felt ill every time Heidi had to drop them in. I can’t even watch a close-up of someone’s eyes on ER.

However, I think I may need some glasses that will rest my eyes.

Heidi suggested contact lenses. But, I have never understood the purpose of these.

If your eyesight is broken how you are supposed to find them when you drop them on a brightly colored ship’s carpet? Or if one drops into your bowl of sweet and sour chicken? Or in the middle of a shopping mall …………………I’ve seen too many people on their hands and knees shouting “Nobody move.”

If buying spectacles is as ridiculous as buying sunglasses then I don’t think I will bother.

Could someone please explain why today’s choice of glasses is so universally cool? I wanted something from the 80’s, an Aviator perhaps, but all I was offered was the sort of stuff worn by Brad Pitts and U.2.’s lead singer Bonio. I remember a few years ago that if you wanted to buy sun glasses their was a men’s and a ladies section. Now, everything is unisex and I am always concerned that I will leave the shop wearing the same sun glasses that Madonna or Victoria Beckham would wear.

Also, how the heck are you supposed to know how you look in a pair of glasses with all the advertising paraphernalia and health and safety bollocks hanging like bunting in front of the lenses, which to make things even worse is covered in stickers?

I shall carry on until Heidi makes me go to the optician…………….but just that thought has my lunch making on its way out.

Give me the choice of a rectal examination or having someone play with my eyes for an hour………well……….you had better get the Canon camera greased up so Dr.Ivor Longfinger can have a look around……………………rather that then my eyes.

Well, it’s ours. At 1 pm today the shipyard confirmed that the check had not bounced and the Carnival Splendor was ceremoniously handed over to Carnival. The ceremony was attended by the great and good from Fincantieri, Carnival Cruise Lines, Carnival Corporation, the Italian Government and lots of friends and family who had traveled from various parts of Italy to share in this special day.

It was strange for me today as I watched a beautiful lady host the proceedings. I wanted to be up on that stage but instead I sat at the back at watched her introduce the guest speakers. These included the Chairman of Fincantieri Mr. Antonini who looks like the sort of person you want to call “grandpa ” or would be just as happy dressing up as Santa on Christmas Day as he is running one of Italy’s most successful companies. Then there was a Minister from the Italian Government. I would like to tell you his name and what he said but unfortunately he spoke only in Italian.

Now, the front rows had been provided with headsets that received a live translation in English however back in the cheap seats all I could tell that Mr. Minister was very hot or he liked doing an impression of a windmill as he spoke……..his arms were everywhere.

Then it was Carnival’s President and C.E.O Gerry Cahill’s turn to speak.

This was his first time speaking at such an occasion as the man in charge of the Most Popular Cruise Line In The World…………..I am sure he was nervous and new the eyes of everyone were upon him……………….well……………………..he was brilliant………………he spoke clearly and calmly and he had everyone’s attention.

He spoke to a room of very proud people…………I bet none were prouder than our Gerry.

The speeches over we watched the dramatic and somewhat emotional flag changing ceremony where the Fincantieri and Italian flags are lowered to the playing of the Italian national anthem and then we watched the raising of the American and Carnival flags to the sounds of The Star Spangled Banner.

All that was left was for Captain Giorgio Pagano to accept the ship with a simple handshake whereupon the Yard Director gave him the keys and a one year warranty subject to APR fixed rate must be over 25 does not include GPS and leather terms and conditions apply.

It was then off to lunch and for the first time the Gold Pearl restaurant was alive with the sound of people eating Osso Buco and fresh fish washed down with fine wine and great conversation.

Then Mr. Ken Byrne sang a song which was received with much applause and then it was time for the waiters to entertain. Music is an international language and it appears that the song they had chosen to perform to was well known. I of course have never heard of a man, a woman or a group called Flow Rider………..apparently everyone else has judging by the response of people singing and clapping along………………I looked across at the Top Table and even saw some of the VIP’s mouthing the words. One stunningly beautiful lady shimmering in a white jacket thing was really getting into it ……….she was singing and doing all the rap hand gestures and even tried to climb up onto one of the podiums before she was escorted out by security.

Everyone had a brilliant time and I was so proud of the staff who had gone from the preparation stage straight into service……………well done everyone!

The only sad note was that afterwards everyone was handed a gift. I am not sure what was in the fancy looking box. I asked the Fincantieri lady if I could have one but even though she didn’t speak English I knew by chances were zero by the look on her face. I would have loved one (whatever it was) for my Dad’s shrine…….something to remember this special day by.

One thing I really want though is to share the video of the making of the vessel with you all. It was superbly made by Fincantieri and lasts about 5 – 10 minutes. It contains some great behind the scenes shots and I hope to ask Santa Antonini for permission to set up a link thingy so you can all see this great film.

Tonight we will feed 2,000 shipyard workers………the welders, electricians, cleaners and engineers whose blood, sweat and prolific hand gestures built the ship. The cast will present the show Vroom – twice. I am in awe of them all as they have been rehearsing non stop for a month and I know they must be tired. Nobody will know this tonight however as they show just why Carnival has the best seagoing entertainment… the world.

So, now we have a one day to test everything and then on Monday embark 2,500 travel agents and Carnival office folks. It will be great to see them all, great to spend time with them all………………however……………………..and with the greatest respect……………….I wish they would all bugger off and all this pomp and circumstance was over……………and we can start doing what we do best…………..providing thousands of people with the best vacation they could possibly have.

Here are some random photos of the event:

The Carnival Splendor is ours……………………….actually ………….that’s not right ……………………….. The Carnival Splendor is YOURS………………Let the fun begin!

Your Friends
John, Heidi and The Carnival Splendor

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.